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IAA 2005 - The fascination rolls on

The IAA logo with its stylized automotive silhouette.

October 1, 2005, by Bill Cawthon

The sixty-first International Automobil-Ausstellung, the world's largest automotive trade show, closed just a week ago and it is already being hailed as one of the most successful ever. At the closing press conference last Sunday, Dr. Bernd Gottschalk, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), said, "This year's IAA 2005 is a great success! In terms of sheer quality it is the best IAA we ever had."

VDA officials reported there were 940,000 visitors to this year's show, the second-highest figure ever recorded, and said it was likely a new record would have been set had it not been for some conflicting events like the German national elections which were held on the first Sunday the show was open.

The IAA is really a two-year event. It kicks off in odd-numbered years with a passenger vehicle show in Frankfurt. It continues the following year when the exhibition moves to Hannover and features trucks. So this year we have what is officially the "61st IAA Cars" and next year's event will be the "61st IAA Commercial Vehicles." The sixty-second cycle won't begin until 2007, when the IAA returns to Frankfurt.

Not for sale: Herpa's Mercedes B-Class taxi and this special red Audi A4 Cabriolet were reserved for VIPs.

This year, visitors were able to see the latest cars and automotive products displayed by nearly a thousand exhibitors from forty-four different countries. There were 122 new cars and light trucks on display, including 80 new vehicles making their worldwide debut. Among these were some we will see in North America, like the Audi Q7, Honda Civic, Porsche Cayman S and Volvo V70, and a number that won't be making the trip across the Atlantic. This second group includes the Fiat Grande Punto, Opel Astra TwinTop, Peugeot 407 Coupé and Renault Clio and, believe it or not, a Cadillac. The new, smaller BLS was specifically designed for the European market and won't be sold over here for at least a few years, if ever.

There's been no shortage of coverage of the full-size vehicles and I will leave that to other automotive scriveners. I want to tell you about another side to IAA that hasn't gotten quite as much ink: the new scale models.

In addition to the highly collectible promotional models of the new cars from BMW, DaimlerChrysler, VW and other automakers, just about every major German modelmaker has a special model created specifically for the show. IAA even has its own event-within-an-event especially for model fans. On September 17 and 18, part of Hall 9 was set aside for "Automania," a two-day show devoted to scale vehicles.

Imagine how wonderful something like that would be as part of Detroit's North American International Auto Show or the big shows in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles.

Audi commissioned two new models from Wiking: the new A4 Cabriolet and the Q7 SUV. Both should be available through Wiking sometime in 2006.

My good friend Marc Schmidt paid a couple of visits to this year's IAA. For the past few years, Marc has been the European correspondent for the 1/87 Vehicle Club and has done a great job of covering the major car and model shows. He is also an experienced negotiator and usually manages to come away with a few of the limited-edition models normally given only to special customers, dealers and executives. This year, his haul included a Mercedes B-Class taxi from Herpa and a red Audi A4 convertible from Wiking.

Naturally there were plenty of new miniature cars that will be available to collectors and model fans who don't have Marc's contacts. The Herpa B-Class in standard and metallic finishes is one of the new releases for November-December and we can expect to see the S-Class sometime in 2006. Another model that was on display is the new BMW 3-Series Touring. The Bimmer wagon is already available from BMW dealers, but it's now another new Herpa general release for the end of the year.

Audi surprised everyone with the 1:87 scale version of the new A4 convertible. Since Herpa had made a very nice model of the current A4, it was expected they would get the facelift. However, Audi went with Wiking and Marc reports the results are outstanding. In his words, "Quality is breathtaking - as good as 1:87 scale modeling currently gets." Since 1:87 scale models are currently pretty darn nice, I can't wait to see this new Audi.

I must admit, when it comes to incredible paint finishes, Wiking is very hard to beat. I don't usually get more than one or two of a particular model, but when Wiking makes a new promotional model, I often find myself buying every color just because they are so beautiful.

Herpa's new SEAT Leon was on display. The new Leon is based on the SEAT Salsa show car.

Along with the new A4, Audi was offering the new Q7 SUV model, which is another very nice Wiking effort that has been available from Audi dealers since August.

Audi wasn't the only company with Wiking promotional models. Volkswagen had the new Jetta sedans and Passat wagons that went on sale at VW dealers before the show. Unfortunately, there wasn't a 1:87 model of VW's hot new Eos convertible, which made its debut this year, but Marc says that will come sometime next spring.

Herpa had their own surprise with a 1:87 replica of the new SEAT Leon (I am always uncertain if SEAT should be capitalized as it originally stood for "Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo," but is now SEAT, S.A.). SEAT is the Spanish subsidiary of Volkswagen and previous models were made by Rietze. However, the new Leon went to Herpa and Marc reports the results are very nice, indeed.

The full-size Leon shares a platform with the Volkswagen Golf, Audi A3 and Skoda Octavia but has a nice style all its own. The exterior design was done by British stylist Steve Lewis and is based on the SEAT Salsa concept from a few years back.

This limited-edition version of the new Mercedes S-Class is one of more than a dozen promotional models Herpa created for DaimlerChrysler.

While the stock version of the model will only be available though SEAT dealers in Europe until it's added to Herpa's general distribution line sometime in 2006, the gang in Dietenhofen is releasing the Cupra R competition version at the end of this year. I guess that's not such a big surprise, as one of the real racing Leons wears Herpa colors.

After a meeting with Alexander Fischer, the head of SEAT's sales organization, Marc reports it's likely there will more SEAT cars appearing in 1:87 scale.

While Lothar Rietze didn't get the commission from SEAT, he had his own surprise for model fans: the new Suzuki Grand Vitara SUV. This model had been hinted at during Spielwarenmesse last February, but it had not been shown until the first day of IAA. In fact, the models still haven't been delivered to Suzuki dealers, so none were available at the show. This is a model I hope we will be able to get in the U.S. as the new Grand Vitara is a major release for Suzuki, which has been living off the Forenza and Verona, its GM-supplied Daewoo clones for quite a while as sales of its own vehicles have declined sharply. While you may not care about Suzuki's real-world business, the Rietze model is one of the very few 1:87 scale versions of a Japanese vehicle available in ready-to-run form.

Rietze unveiled a 1:87 scale replica of the new Suzuki Grand Vitara. Marc had to shoot this photo through a display case and did a great job.

In addition to new models, there were show specials from just about everyone. Brekina produced a black 1970 Ford Taunus Coupe GT with a striking flame paint job for Modellauto Wanner, a German hobby shop. Wiking had a VW Golf taxi, a 1:160 new Beetle fixed up as a lapel pin and a Mercedes 280SL decorated to match the Porsche 356 offered at the last Frankfurt show in 2003. Busch had an M-Class wearing the IAA logo on its roof and a special version of the new R-Class model.

Herpa had three show specials in their traditional IAA blue. There was a Mercedes B-Class, Audi A3 Sportback and a BMW 3-Series sedan.

As most of these models carried a rather stiff premium over the regular versions, it would have taken a rather well-heeled (or rabid) collector to come away with them all. Herpa alone produced eighteen different models for the show.

Earlier in the column, I mentioned a couple of new models from Herpa's November-December releases. There are some other noteworthy announcements in the list, like the first-generation Volkswagen Scirocco and BMW 321i, both classic Herpa models that are now being re-released. You'll be able to stage your own race with seven different SEAT Leon Cupra R models and MAN TGA XXL and Iveco ET HD tractors with racing trailers decorated for the SEAT teams. The two scheduled for the end of this year, Fischer Racing and Wiechers Sport, will be followed by others in 2006.

A pre-production sample of Herpa's new Liebherr PR734 bulldozer was part of the Herpa display at IAA.

Also scheduled for delivery by the end of the year is Herpa's third piece of heavy equipment. This time it's a Liebherr PR734L bulldozer. The PR734 is the largest of Liebherr's new Series 4 dozers, weighing in at up to 25 tons, and is equipped with a 200-hp engine. Liebherr first showed the PR734 in the U.S. at the CONEXPO show in Las Vegas last March. It's a big dozer, but with a transportation (blade detached) width of eight feet, eleven inches, it is just five inches over the legal maximum. Even with the eleven foot, one inch-wide blade still attached, it can still fit (barely) in a standard city traffic lane so you'll be able to load it on a lowboy and add an "oversize load" banner.

If you want something a bit larger, Herpa has finally scheduled their second 1:18 scale Playcar for production. Originally announced in 2004 last year as one of many Herpa projects, the new Mercedes SLK Roadster is being initially released as a Christmas model. Unlike the first Playcar, the BMW Z4 Roadster, the new SLK has both an opening hood and trunk. Inside the trunk is a matching SLK model in 1:87 scale. The Herpa photo shows a Santa figure in the driver's seat and Andreas Spector, Herpa's customer service manager, tells me the figure is included. Like the original Playcar, the new Mercedes was designed to be used with the Playmobil figures from Geobra Brandstätter so after the holidays you can put Santa away and let your children enjoy the big Herpa, too. The Playcars are fairly expensive, but they are very nice-looking and well-made. A red Z4 Playcar with a Playmobil Santa at the wheel has been one of our Christmas decorations for the past couple of years.

At the same time he filled me in on the details about the Playcar, Andreas told me he was literally on his way out the door after his last day at Herpa. Though he has enjoyed his career at Herpa, things change and now he and his family are moving to Augsburg where a new job awaits.

Andreas has been most friendly and helpful over the years we have been in contact and I want to let him know I appreciate it and wish him well in his new job and home.

"Vielen Dank!" to Marc Schmidt for the great photos and insight into this year's IAA. Other than the image of the 61st IAA logo, which is used courtesy of and is copyright © 2005 Verband der Automobilindustrie, all the photos are copyright © 2005 Marc Schmidt and used by permission.

See you next time!

- Bill Cawthon

Bill Cawthon is a modeler and collector. His primary hobby interests are vehicle models in 1:87 and 1:160 scales and model railroading. He is senior editor of Route 1-87, the magazine of the 1/87 Vehicle Club, and a columnist and product reviewer for Model Railroad News. He is one of the creators of the award-winning "Grimy Gulch" model railroad layout.

In real life, Bill is a marketing and public relations consultant for MARK III Systems, a successful information technology company. He also writes for, an international auto industry publication, reporting on the U.S. light vehicle industry.

He lives in Houston, Texas with his wife, Marge, and their children.

Bill's columns appear twice monthly on Promotex Online. To learn more about him, click here.


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published by Cadabra Corp. This page was lasted updated: October 12, 2005